Introducing Webpage In-Browser Monitoring

February 1st, 2016
Posted in WebSitePulse News

We are delighted to announce the launching of our newest service - webpage in-browser monitoring.

Check out the features and see if it's right for you:

Features

  • Performs within a real browser (WebKit engine)
  • Provides a real browser experience from a user perspective
  • Verifies keywords
  • Verifies DOM components against CSS selectors
  • Supports JavaScript and CSS
  • Uses multiple simultaneous connections
  • Provides screenshots on the last check and on every error
  • Provides detailed report with graphs

 

 

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Webpage In-Browser vs. In-Browser Transaction Monitoring

Similarly to the in-browser transaction monitoring, the webpage in-browser provides a real browser experience from a user perspective. Clients can actually ‘experience’ the availability and performance of their webpage’s web applications the same way their website’ visitors do, i.e. via a real browser engine.

While the in-browser transaction is based on the Firefox engine (GECKO) and our clients need to fill in a set of actions that we perform afterwards, the webpage in-browser is based on the WebKit engine identical to the Google Chrome’s one, and clients provide only an URL which we then have to load.

Webpage In-Browser vs. Full-Page Website Monitoring

Both services load the webpage along with all the components on it (images, CSS, JavaScript). However, webpage In-browser is more useful when the client needs to see how his website visitors view a specific webpage as that monitoring service occurs in a real browser. In addition, it will show a realistic view on the page load time. It performs the network requests simultaneously.

In contrast, full-page website monitoring will perform every network request separately. However, it is suitable when you need to check whether all components on the page load properly. 

For more detailed comparison between the two services, see the table below.

 Webpage
In-Browser
Full Page
Performs in Browser -
Browser Page Load -
Screenshot on Every Check -
Execute JS -
Execute CSS -
Multiple Simultaneous Connections -
Monitoring Interval
Maximum References to Check
Soft Timeout
Keep Detailed Logs
Traceroute on Error
Forced Monitoring
IPv6 -
HTTPS
GET
POST
HEAD -
XML Requests
Request Timeout
Page Load Timeout
Exclude URLs
Include Additional URLs -
Alert If Keywords Not Found
Alert If Keywords Found
Custom Headers
Force TLS/SSL Version
Bandwidth Limit -

Clients who have been using full-page monitoring, may continue to do so unless they decide to upgrade to webpage in-browser.

Curious how webpage in-browser  may further fulfill your monitoring needs?

We are now offering up to 2 targets for a period of one month free of charge.

Try Webpage In-Browser Monitoring Now

Monitoring Outlook Web App (Case Study)

October 13th, 2015
Posted in Monitoring

What is Outlook Web App (OWA)?

Outlook Web App (OWA), first released as "Exchange Web Connect" and then renamed to "Outlook Web Access", is a webmail interface for Microsoft Exchange Server.

OWA was created in 1995 by MS Program Manager Thom McCann from the Exchange Server team. The first customer version was provided as part of the Exchange Server 5.0 release two years later.

Microsoft released the OWA customer version as a component of Exchange Server to allow users to use their email accounts via a web browser without installing Microsoft Outlook. OWA provides features for managing contacts, documents, calendars, tasks and other mail-related content.

Outlook Web App has had two user interfaces available since its release back in 2000 - one with all features included ("Premium") and one with а limited functionality ("Light" a.k.a. "Lite"). Prior to the 2010 release, OWA required full functionality only from the Internet Explorer, but today it supports most of the commonly used browsers.

Advantages of OWA

The Outlook Web App:

  • Provides quick and easy way to do your email, calendar and contacts from any device (PC, mobile phone, tablet, etc.)
  • Allows access to the user account from any computer outside the local/office network
  • Runs on most Internet-enabled devices
  • Offers light version for users with bad Internet connection
  • Supports S/MIME
  • Has anti-phishing and anti-spam technology
  • Provides instant messaging

Many of the OWA users are companies with lots of personnel who use OWA as a fast and easy way to access their email accounts from virtually everywhere and from any device.

How Can WebSitePulse Monitor OWA

WebSitePulse can offer the following monitoring solutions for Exchange Serverand particularly Outlook Web App:

  1. Email Round-trip Monitoring
  • It’s easy to setup
  • It checks the incoming and outgoing email flow
  • It does not check the OWA web interface
  1. Front Page OWA Monitoring - monitor the OWA front/login page to see if it is working properly with ourPerformance and Full-page monitoring levels.
  • It’s relatively cheap
  • It supports lower monitoring frequencies (1/3/5 minutes)
  • It does not verify the proper functionality of the customer's email system
  1. OWA Login - monitor the OWA to see if it is processing the logins properly andshowing the mailbox home page with our Transaction monitoring tool
  • It verifies if the OWA is actually accessible to the users
  • It does not check if the OWA is able to send or receive emails
  1. Full OWA Functionality Test - with our Custom Transaction Monitoring, we are able to test the full OWAfunctionality. This includes the proper login processing, the ability to sendand receive emails, the functionality of the other major OWA features (search, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, etc.).

Case Study

Here is an example of a monitoring solution we have developed for one of ourcustomers. We use our Custom Transaction Monitoring to test the client'sOWA capabilities of sending and receiving mails.

The test process starts by sending a unique email to a customer's test emailaccount. Then, our monitoring system logins into the OWA and searches for thatemail. If the email is present, it is being deleted and then a new uniqueemail is being sent through the web interface to a mailbox outside thecustomer's network (in this case - a WebSitePulse mailbox). On the finalstep, our system checks if the second email has arrived.

This custom monitoring solution verifies if the client's email system (inbound/outbound email flow) and OWA are working properly.

Apart from the functionality test, we also measure the OWA interfaceperformance.

The customer will be notified in any of the following cases:

  • The OWA is not loading at all or is performing slowly
  • Our system cannot login with the provided user credentials
  • The incoming test emails are missing
  • Our system cannot send emails through the OWA web interface
  • The outgoing test emails have not been delivered
  • Issues with secured OWA zone appear

This monitoring solution has been developed with a 9-step custom scripttransaction. The deployment time for such monitoring is usually 24 hours andthere are no setup fees.

I Didn’t Get My WebSitePulse Alert! Why?

October 5th, 2015
Posted in Monitoring

One of the main reasons you may start looking for monitoring tools is the need to get notified when your website is not performing properly.

Of course, you need to be aware of the problem before your customers do so you could take actions to avoid customer and revenue loss. After all, if your website has been down for a while without your knowledge, you are likely to experience serious business downfalls. To avoid critical situations like that, you should simply ensure you have set the alerting of your monitoring targets properly.

How Does WSP Alerting Work?

There are three main sections in the target configuration responsible for the proper alerting.

Target Status

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A single click on the target label will lead you to the target status – a place where you could check your current target status and a focal point to all of the target’s features. Once you reach the target status, you could check if the alerts of the target are active or suspended. It’s that little speaker icon on the right-hand side on the top of the screen. If the target alerts for the respective target are active, you could proceed to the target settings.

Alerts Configuration

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This is where you set the existing notification contact to receive alerts for the target. WebSitePulse splits the errors into three main categories, which is why the alerts are combined in three groups – connection-related alerts, content-related alerts and timeout warnings. Depending on your needs, you could use one, two or all three options at the same time. Note that if you leave the timeout checkbox for a specific notification contact unchecked, the same notification contact won’t be alerted with a timeout warning if an issue occurs.

There are several more columns in the alerts configuration table. One of them is failures before sending. The default value here is 1, meaning you will be alerted on the first detected failure. You could change that value as per your needs, but keep in mind that if you set it to 2, once we detect a failure, we will wait for the next check and will send alert to the notification contact only if the problem is detected again on the next (second consecutive) check. This feature is commonly used as a false-positive prevention system for targets with short monitoring intervals (1,2,3 minutes) and it’s not recommended for targets with monitoring intervals higher than 5 minutes.

Monitoring locations

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Here you select the location from which your target will be monitored. If the alert settings’ option is set to “don’t send”, we won’t send you an alert even if the monitoring location detects an issue.

While you are in the monitoring location section, you could also check the error confirmation feature. When this feature is activated, we run a secondary check from a different location to confirm the error before sending you an alert (when a problem is detected). There are cases when the email report shows you a failure for which you haven’t receive an alert. An unconfirmed error could be one of the reasons.

Now, take a look at the location-correlated notification level feature. Again, this is our false-positive prevention system, working only when your target is monitored from more than one monitoring location. If your target is monitored from three monitoring locations, this feature could be set to alert you only if at least half of the monitoring locations (in that case - at least 2 of them) detect the same error. In certain cases, you could increase the correlation level between the monitoring locations and set them to alert you only if all of them detect the same error.

Other reasons which could prevent our system of sending you an alert are:

  • An active dependency rule for the target
  • An active contact availability rule for the notification contact

These are exceptional cases for which we assume you are aware of since you have manually set them up.

If all features and settings described above are set properly and you still have not received your alert, contact our Support team.

How to Customize Contact Types

September 30th, 2015
Posted in Monitoring

Monitoring your website's availability and performance has proven to be a crucial part of the responsibilities of web-business owners. Knowing about a problem with your website or application on time helps you avoid possible downtimes and clientsand revenue loss. That is why we make sure to alert you in all possible ways. In this article we will introduce you to the Contact types we support, how to set them up and how to use them.

Contact Types

  • Email
  • SMS
  • iOS & Android device
  • Voice call
  • Instant messanger
  • Pager
  • URL
  • SNMP

Email

The email contact is one of the most used and preferred in the IT world. It is reliable and easy to set up. Here’s how:

  • Fill in the new contact's name and the email address itself.

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  • Specify the contact's availability (this is optional – do not change those settings in case you want the contact to be active 24/7).
  • Configure the alert content that you want to receive. Note that there is a default alert message for each target and alert type. You can choose to modify the content of the alerts using the tags from the list provided.
  • Configure the alerts for the respective contact. You can choose between connection and content related alerts, timeout warnings and recovery messages. The “failures before sending an alert” option allows you to define how many times the target in question has to be reported down, before an alert is sent. The “Maximum alerts per cycle“ value defines the maximum alerts that will be sent to your contact after the first consecutive failure is detected. The “Alerts cycle” itself is the value, which specifies the time frame after which our system will restart the escalation schedule of the target.
  • Configure the reports that your contact will receive by email. You should click the "Add new report" to create a new report or select an existing contact and copy the reports from it.
  • Last, review and confirm the new contact's configuration.

SMS

The SMS contact's configuration is almost the same as the email's, except for the first step. Here you have to provide your name and number and select your preferred SMS Gateway – currently you can chose between four options. We always want to make sure that our clients have the best configuration and that is why we recommend testing the delivery first, before choosing the SMS Gateway.

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iOS and Android Device 

As with the SMS contact, only the first step differs from the Email contact's configuration.

  • Choose a friendly name for the contact, then add your device from the drop down menu

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Voice Call

Simply provide your name and phone number and chose one of the two available Voice call gateways:

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Instant messenger

Enter your name, your screen name and choose the messenger type from the drop down menu. You can select between the following options:

  • Yahoo
  • ICQ
  • MSN
  • Jabber
  • Skype
  • Gtalk

The Timezone of all Contact types by default is set according to your account's Time zone, but you can change it as per your likings (e.g. in case you have a contact in another country).

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Pager

If you are still a fan of this old-school device, we are here for you. You can set your pager's contact by simply providing a name, the pager's number and the mobile operator (the last one is optional). Keep in mind that as of now, we support pages to US, Canada and UK phone numbers.

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URL

In case of an error, the URL contact will open a specific page. You can use this service to reboot your server or perform any other action that can be triggered by opening a specific web page. Our monitoring agents support both HTTP and HTTPS protocols. The URL can be requested using either GET or POST request methods. And here is how this alert method works:

 

The alert details are sent as a single GET or POST parameter. The parameters are appended to your URL so that you can record them in your database or process them within your web application. In order to easily process the information sent by our monitoring agent, we recommend you to modify the contact's alert contents.

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SNMP

Provide the contact's name and the SNMP server. Using Trap OID is optional. Here's how this contact alerting works:

A SNMP trap will be sent to the configured server. Keep in mind that this contact type cannot receive reports by email. You can download the WebSitePulse.com MIB file (that defines the traps sent by our monitoring agent) either from the contact's configuration page or from the following URL:

http://www.websitepulse.com/contacts/WEBSITEPULSE-NOTIFY-MIB.txt

Note that no additional fees are added for receiving SNMP traps.

Now that we have covered all Contact types that we currently support, feel free to create the one that best meets your technical and budget needs. In case you have questions, need additional information or assistance – we are here for you 24/7.

How to Customize Alert Contents

September 15th, 2015
Posted in Monitoring

There are many reasons to set up customized alerts from WebSitePulse, such as:

  • You are parsing the content of the alerts with another notification and/or monitoring tool.
  • You need specific data in the alerts (last resolved IP, the first 100 bytes of the response we received from your server, etc.).
  • You only want to receive 1 SMS notification (usually up to 160 characters per message)  when we detect a failure.

How to Customize Alerts

Customizing alerts contents is an easy and straight forward process that you can do in less than 5 minutes. Here’s how:

Go to Contacts and then click “alert contents”.

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Once there, you need to choose the notification contact for which you want to customize the alerts, the target type and alert type.

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If the alert contents for a specific contact are already modified, you will see a modified link on the right hand side of the contact in question. Clicking it will show you exactly which contents were modified and for which target types the alerts are going to be different than the default ones.

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To get the default alerts for a modified contact, click on the "reset" link next to the specific target and message type. Тo modify the contents for a specific contact but for all target and alert types, select the contact and choose to modify all target and alert types.

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By clicking „modify“ you will proceed with the customization. Кeep in mind that there are going to be 76 different alert contents which you have to modify if you decide to do that for all types of targets and alerts.

The best option here is to modify only the contents for the specific levels of monitoring you use. If you have performance targets, for example, and you do not have any other types of targets, there is no point in customizing the alert contents for the other target types simply because you will never receive such alerts. If you follow that advice, you will save a lot of time and you will not be frustrated with the customization process.

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Here is the actual customization section for the alert contents.

At the very top of the page, you will see a list of the contacts for which you want to make the changes. You can select a single contact or multiple contacts and edit the contents simultaneously.

Under the list of the contacts, you will see the target and alert types for which you will be making the changes.

You can use tags in the subject and body of the notification messages. I will soon publish a detailed post on the possible tags and the information they will include in the alerts if you decide to add them.

You can also set maximum alert size (the number of characters in the alert message) and a reply to a mail address.

For the performance target type, there are nine possible notifications and by clicking “save” and “next step” you will be able to customize each and every one of these notifications. You can stop the process at any time and just save the changes you have made so far by clicking the „save“ and „finish“ button. By clicking “cancel” the changes will not be saved and you will be taken back to the alert contents section of your account.